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By LARRY VAUGHT
Junior Jon Hood was coming off an 18-point performance in the Blue-White Game but he didn’t get into Thursday’s exhibition game until the final four minutes when
Calipari brought him and Jarrod Polson into the game together. However, after the game Calipari vowed that Hood would play more in Monday’s exhibition against Transylvania.
Calipari said he wanted to see how his top seven players would mesh in this game before going to Hood or Polson, another junior.
Now I’ve got to figure out if we can stick in Jon Hood, which I’m going to do against Transy. I told him and Jarrod (Polson) I’ve got to go with these seven, and I’ve got to go figure out stuff. We’re so far behind,” Calipari said. “But I told him, now seeing that Alex (Poythress) just didn’t have the energy to finish the game.
“That means that maybe we shove Jon Hood in there three or four minutes a half while we’re playing and that’s a rotation where he goes in, and we will look at that against Transy. And Jon Hood is way better, because he is playing within himself. He’s playing the way coaches tell him to play and the way I know he should play. So he’ll be fine.”
Calipari noted how he got a text earlier in the day from Eloy Vargas, who played sparingly on UK’s championship team last year but is now contemplating where to play professional basketball this year, wishing the Cats luck and thanking him for “everything” the coach had done for him. The text noted that he did not play a lot, but just being at UK “helped me to where I’m trying to go, and I just want to thank you.”
Calipari wants Hood to feel like that with his role.
“That means he (Vargas) knows, yes, I want him to play more, but we care about him, that this is more than just the guys who are playing. I want Jon Hood to feel that way. People around him might be mad he’s not playing more. That’s how it is. But I want him to know we care and that we’re trying to make him better.”